Food Insecurity and Poverty in the U.S.

Even though the poverty rate is slowly going down and the median income is going up, millions of Americans earn an income low enough that they are forced to worry about being able to afford enough food to sufficiently feed their families. This includes families whose average income doesn’t even fall below the poverty line, and people who face varying systemic barriers affecting their ability to have food security and earn a living wage.

In the last year, around forty-million Americans earned less than $25,100. That is considered to be the poverty line for an American family of four. This makes it extremely evident that there are still families who find it difficult to afford their necessities, who unfortunately are a part of the ten-million food-insecure people of the United States who earn incomes that are too high to be considered eligible for SNAP or WIC assistance. It is outrageous that over forty-million people live with the worry that they won’t be able to sufficiently feed their families. Included in the forty-million people living below the poverty line, are over twelve-million children who shouldn’t have to go to school hungry. The American people need to paid a better living wage so that they don’t have to constantly live in fear.

This disadvantage is even greater among those who are facing systemic barriers preventing them from earning an appropriate income, including those with a disability, households run by single mothers, and those living in rural areas. In America, the poverty rate is twice as high among those with a disability, totaling four million people, households run by single mothers are two and a half times more likely to live with food insecurity, and for the past four years, higher food insecurity has been found in rural households than in urban ones. This can be seen in the graph presented on page two, which shows us that the highest number of food-insecure households are mainly in the South at 43%, followed by the Midwest with 22%, the West with 21%, and the Northeast with 15%. In addition to this, certain racial groups are more affected than others. Although 50% of food-insecure households are white, they represent only 1 in 11 American households, compared to the much more frequent 1 in 5 African American and 1 in 6 Latino households who report food insecurity.

The census bureau has started to account for the number of people who were protected from poverty with the help of the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which incorporates the aid received through federal programs including Social Security, SNAP benefits, and EITC and child tax credits. Social Security prevented an estimated twenty-seven million people from falling below the poverty line, while EITC and child tax credits with eight million, and SNAP benefits with three million. The Supplemental Poverty Measure is also supposed to measure by including the impact of significant expenses, such as medical expenditures, but there are still eleven million people living in poverty due to withstanding medical expenses. American citizens shouldn’t have to worry about their ability to pay their bills if they get sick. America needs a more comprehensive healthcare system.

Evidence clearly suggests that federal programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and SNAP programs work to protect families from facing these burdens. We must ensure that our government doesn’t weaken the strength of these federal programs and the aid they provide, and educate our population on the ways that can build their household stability, like enrolling in health insurance. We must also make the people who are in higher need a priority, like communities of color, seniors, single-parent households, and those with disabilities. We can do our part by donating food to one of the 200 food banks or 60,000 food pantries or meal programs established all over the country. Feeding America leads the fight in educating the public about the nations hunger problem and advocating for protective legislation, but we as citizens also need to fight to ensure our government is striving to keep people from going hungry.

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